Enjoy the trip — “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers / Disfruta el viaje – “Outside Heavenly” de Rio Youers

Welcome, Readers, to another review full of spoilers. It can’t be helped. Sometimes I have to discuss details beneath the skin. If you accept these terms, please continue.

First things first: “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers has a really good opening.

The pillar of black smoke could be seen from Heavenly. The townsfolk looked from their windows and gathered on sidewalks. They knew it was the Roth place burning, and they prayed for the girls but not the man.

With this beginning, Youers does two things well that are critical to the success of any story. First, he puts us right into the scene and tells us who we need to be concerned about, and second, he creates familiar circumstances as a starting point. We see ourselves in the role of townsfolk almost and accept the logic of the following action. Continue reading

Macro-level horror in “Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” by Rhoads Brazos / Horror de nivel macro en “Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” de Rhoads Brazos

“Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” by Rhoads Brazos is a great little adventure story that flips the horror element from the usual micro-level tension to macro—super macro. After reading a couple of the other pieces in The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 7, edited by Ellen Datlow, I stumbled on to this one primarily because a quick scan told me it was set in the Outback and I looked forward to moving into a realm where I knew little about the rules and reference points for horror.

We meet a speleologist, Charlie, who’s disconcerted by strange surface terrains, though quite at home with exploring the depths of caverns. She meets a geophysicist who is exploring a here-to-fore unknown cavern Charlie discovered deep in the Outback after following the geophysicist’s directions. Continue reading